Sunday, October 04, 2015

Out of this World - Maps of the Week

The best interactive maps of the past week have been out of this world.

The New York Times created two planetary globes from NASA's latest imagery of Pluto and Ceres. The NYT's Pluto GlobeCeres Globe are simple but impressive maps, but my two favorite maps this week were Discovering Liquid Water on Mars and Where on Mars?.

Where on Mars? is a superbly crafted story map which explains the various criteria being used to pick the perfect landing site for the European Space Agency's Mars rover. ESA's ExoMars programme plans to land a rover on the surface of Mars to search for signs of past and present life.

The Where on Mars story map shows the four possible landing sites for the ExoMars 2018 Mission. The map includes a number of different map views of the red planet. Using the forward and back buttons on the map you can progress through the different map layers to learn more about how the final landing site will be chosen.

On Monday NASA announced that 'recurring slope lineae' and hydrated salts discovered on the sides of craters are proof of water flow on Mars. The Esri Story map, Discovering Liquid Water on Mars, provides a great illustration of these recurring slope lineae using NASA imagery and maps of Mars.

The story map uses imagery from the Horowitz, Hale, Garni and Palikir craters to show examples of these dark streaks which are caused by subsurface water flow. In particular the timelapse images from the Palikir and Horowitz craters do a great job at showing how the streaks appear, lengthen and vanish with the passing of seasons on Mars.

Back on Earth you can take an amazing virtual hot air balloon ride over the Swiss Alps with Suisse Mania. This stunning 3d map takes you on a journey over Switzerland and allows you to explore this beautiful country from the air.

Use your left mouse button to move around the map. The right mouse button rotates your view and you can use your scroll wheel to zoom in and out on the map. As you travel around the map you can click on buildings and other features on the map to listen to the history of the selected location. You can also add the selected locations to your own scrapbook. There are 54 special objects to collect in all. Good hunting ....

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